Criticism clouds Sunday football amid anger at NFL's Goodell

Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:59pm EDT
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By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - The stadiums were packed and the fans cheered, but overhanging the Sunday series of National Football League match-ups were continued calls for the ouster of league Commissioner Roger Goodell and outrage over the league's handling of players accused of domestic violence.

Fierce criticism of the NFL has come from the White House, women's rights groups, fans of the games and others, with many calling for the Goodell to step down. Critics cite the NFL's handling of a domestic violence case involving three-time Pro Bowler Ray Rice as well as violent episodes involving other players, including one indicted for hitting his young son.

"We started the week with players beating up women, we ended the week with players beating up children," retired NFL player Tom Jackson said on Sunday during ESPN’s "Sunday NFL Countdown." "We are in a very serious state in the National Football League."

"It is time for Roger Goodell to resign, and for the NFL to get serious about its commitment to ending violence against women within the league," Nita Chaudhary, co-founder of the women's rights group UltraViolet, said in a statement.

Goodell, the NFL commissioner since 2006, has admitted he "didn't get it right" when initially issuing only a two-game suspension and $500,000 fine to punish Rice, a Baltimore Ravens running back, for punching and knocking out a girlfriend who is now his wife.

After a video of the punch surfaced the Ravens released Rice and Goodell issued an indefinite suspension. Rice is expected to appeal the suspension, ESPN reported on Sunday, citing sources.

Goodell has said the league had not seen the video previously but questions remain about what the league knew and when.

President Barack Obama was shocked by the video, his chief of staff Denis McDonough said on Sunday on the NBC program "Meet the Press." The White House had said in a previous statement that "hitting a woman is not something a real man does."   Continued...

September 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; An Oakland Raiders fan holds a sign for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after the game against the Houston Texans at Coliseum. The Texans defeated the Raiders 30-14. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports